U.S. Sen. David Perdue decided to make fun of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s name and it backfired when many people deemed his behavior as racist.
“Kamala” — the senator pronounces it “comma-la” — is a name of Hindi origin. Her mother was from India and her father is Jamaican.
At a Trump campaign rally, the Republican senator from Georgia purposely mispronounced Harris’s name. “Kamala? Kamala? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever,” Perdue said, as the crowd cheered.
Perdue’s comments outraged many, including fellow politicians. Stacey Abrams, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, said Perdue was employing “racist tropes” against Harris. Sabrina Singh, Harris’ press secretary, called Perdue’s conduct “incredibly racist,” Popular Information reported
Perdue has not apologized and his campaign claimed he mispronounced Harris’ name by accident. “Senator Perdue simply mispronounced Senator Harris’ name, and he didn’t mean anything by it,” John Burke, Perdue’s communications director, told the press.
This isn’t the first time Perdue has racially and ethnically attacked another politician. When Perdue ran a digital ad in July attacking his opponent, Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, the ad “appeared to enlarge Ossoff’s nose.” This is a common anti-Semitic trope. The Anti-Defamation League condemned the ad and encouraged Perdue to “leave anti-Semitic stereotypes and language out of our state’s efforts to elect our leaders and build a better Georgia.” The Perdue campaign “said enlarging Ossoff’s nose was done inadvertently by a vendor.” Perdue did not apologize.
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Some of the largest U.S. corporations contributed to Perdue’s reelection campaign, including Google ($40,000), Walmart ($26,000), Deloitte ($19,500), Target ($13,500), Facebook ($7,500) and Amazon ($5,000), Popular Information reported.
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Twitter is rallying around Harris and the hashtag #MyNameIs has gone viral.
Twitter users are using the hashtag to share information about the etymology of their own names, Mashable reported.
Meena Harris tweeted, “#MyNameIs Meenakshi. I’m named after the Hindu goddess, as well as my great great grandmother. I come from a long line of strong women who taught me to be proud of my heritage and to demand respect—especially from racist white men like @sendavidperdue who are threatened by us.”
Gautam Raghavan tweeted, “My great grandmother’s name was Kamala. Not ‘Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever.’ #MyNameIs Gautam. It means bright light. The kind of bright light a Biden-Harris Administration will represent. And that is why #IWillVote.”
Kanyi Maqubela tweeted, “#MyNameIs Sikanyiselwe. Its Xhosa meaning is ‘we have been shone upon’ or, ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’. My parents chose it believing they had better times ahead — just as so many of us do now. Go vote and make it true. #BidenHarris2020”.